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Highlights

The United Nations (UN) supports U.S. interests in maintaining international security by deploying and operating 16 peacekeeping operations in locations in conflict, including Darfur, Lebanon, and Haiti. Over the past 10 years, the number of deployed UN personnel increased from about 41,000 peacekeepers and civilian staff to about 109,000 in 2008. In this report on the UN's capacity to deploy further operations, GAO was asked to examine (1) the evolution of UN peacekeeping operations in the past 10 years; (2) the likely characteristics of a potential new peacekeeping operation, given this evolution; (3) the challenges, if any, the UN would face deploying this operation; and (4) U.S. efforts to support and report on UN peacekeeping. GAO reviewed UN documents, developed a methodology to assess the requirements for a potential new operation with UN assistance, interviewed UN headquarters and mission officials, and assessed U.S. government documents on UN peacekeeping.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of State To ensure that Congress has the information needed to conduct oversight and fully consider Administration budget and other requests for UN peacekeeping, the Secretary of State should include in the department's annual report or in another appropriate written submission to Congress information about UN resource challenges and gaps in obtaining and deploying troops, police, and civilians authorized to carry out peacekeeping operations. The information should include commitments to provide these resources, difficulties in obtaining them, and whether the gaps have impeded operations from carrying out their mandates. If the information is not available when an appropriate written submission is sent to Congress, the Department of State should ensure the information is provided, as available, during its consultations with Congress.
Closed - Implemented
State officials have responded to the GAO recommendation by using State's monthly "Round the World" verbal briefing for Congressional staff on UN peacekeeping issues to discuss budgets for UN peacekeeping missions at least since late 2010, including gaps and challenges expected for the upcoming months. At the April 4, 2012 briefing, moreover, State officials noted they routinely report budget and budget challenges information at these briefings, as witnessed by GAO staff over the last year. Furthermore, the most recently released annual report on UN peacekeeping to Congress issues (for 2010)included information on UN and U.S. efforts to identify and addressing UN peacekeeping resource needs and gaps that the annual report for 2009 did not.

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